Case File: Noah's Ark
Location: Mount Ararat in Western Turkey
Description: Mount Ararat is a snow-capped and dormant compound volcano in the eastern extremity of Turkey consisting of two major volcanic cones, known as Greater Ararat, the highest peak in Turkey at 5,137 m (16,854 ft) and Lesser Ararat at an elevation of 3,896 m (12,782 ft) and the Armenian plateau between about 40 km (25 mi) in diameter. It is surrounded by a desolate terrain rising above the headwaters of the Tigris River. Mountaineers carry canister of oxygen with them due to the thin air above. The mountain is also prone to lightning strikes.
History: The existence of Noah's Ark is one of the greatest mysteries of the Bible. According to the Bible, the great ship which rescued mankind from an incredible deluge rests somewhere in the dangerous and inaccessible snow-frozen caps of the Ararat Mountains. In recent years, several expeditions under separate explorers have explored the Ararat Mountains for the ark. Incredibly, two separate teams believe they may have found the ark in two different locations seventeen miles apart.
In 1969, a Turkish businessman named George Hagobian claimed the ark rests on Mount Ararat's northeast side under a permanent 23-square-mile glacier. In 1906, he was a young boy when he thought he saw Noah's Ark wedged in a melted part of the glacier. He gave a description of the vessel he saw to archaeological illustrator Elfred Lee. According to Hagobian, it "looked like a long box." It was rectangular and the corners were kind of rounded a little bit. The sides sloped in slightly. The roof was basically flat with just a slight pitch to it, and there was a stair-like apparatus at one end. His uncle hoisted him up onto this ladder, and he walked on up onto the roof. And there all the way down the middle of the roof were these holes. When he stuck his head in, it was dark, and when he shouted, his voice echoed and re-echoed inside and that it "was hollow." A few years later when he returned to the site, the ice and snow were reclaiming it.
Seventeen years later in 1986, Lee met Ed Davis, a U.S. Army official stationed in Iran, who, in 1943, was with the U.S. Army. Davis also said he had seen the ark during flights over the mountain in roughly the same area as George Hagobian's sightings, and his description of it was almost exactly like that of George Hagobian with one difference; Over the years, the ark had apparently been broken in two by the receding and advancing ice. Davis described three decks inside with large cages on the bottom deck, smaller cages on the second deck, and on the roof, a venting system with many holes on it. He said he could see the light and ventilation go clear to the bottom deck.
Although Hagobian and Davis weren't able to pinpoint the exact locations, their stories intrigued Don Shockey, an amateur archaeologist, who launched an expedition to Mount Ararat in April 1989, after studying classified U.S. satellite photos. For three days, he and his guides climbed up the mountain's south side, but the Turkish government prevented them from traveling to the north side. Ahmet, a Turkish guide, continued on by himself to an elevation of nearly 16,000 feet. At that height, he spotted something half-buried in the snow and took a photograph of the end of a rectangular object with a peaked roof just three hundred yards away. Ahmet thought it was a chicken coop, but Shockey believed that Ahmet might have glimpsed the remains of Noah's Ark. He took the photograph to forensic anthropologist Dr. Jim Ebert, who declared it too be distinctly man-made. By the time Shockey returned to Ararat in 1990, the site was already covered by snow and what was there was now completely hidden by the ice. Shockey stopped his search but remained convinced that he might have found the resting place of Noah's Ark.
Author and ark researcher David Fasold, disagrees with Shockley's conclusions. A former merchant marine officer and merchant salvage expert, he believes the ark is at another second location buried seventeen miles south of Mt. Ararat. During a separate investigation in the late 1980's, he and his team searched the site and discovered numerous iron fittings and pins twenty to thirty inches apart. Scanned by electron microscopes at Los Alamos National Laboratory, they discovered the iron fitting was 94.84% man-made wrought iron and from above, they formed a distinct pattern of intersecting lines, like the framework of the ark. Fasold put the boat's length at 515 feet and the width around 85 feet, the same measurements recorded in the Bible. However, other researchers believe that David Fasold found the remains of an ancient Mongol fort while others insist it's a geological formation. The Turkish government has declared the mound the official site where Noah's Ark rests.
Investigations: There has been two separate investigations around Mount Ararat in the late 1980s.
Extra Notes: This case originally ran on the April 29, 1992 episode.